Trust slashing £14.8m in pay and efficiencies

Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry.
Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry.

The Western Trust will lop £14.8m off its spending this year by reducing labour overheads and making economies in procurement and estate management as part of an internal savings drive, but the impact on services will be minimal, claims the Trust.

Recruitment freezes and restrictions on the use of goods and services will also be used to save money.

The ‘Journal’ can reveal that the local health authority has already slashed sums of £2,692,000 and £1,090,000 from its Acute Services, Primary Care and Older People Services directorates’ respective pay bills in 2017/18 as part of the ongoing internal savings process.

In total £12,658,000 has been saved to date through efficiencies in pay, non-pay and technical accounting across all directorates.

However, another £2.1m will be shaved off the budget by the end of March next year.

These savings are being made as part of the Western Trust’s own internal proposals and are entirely separate from the controversial cuts recently mandated by the Department of Health.

The Trust had been tasked with achieving £12.5m - its share of £70m in cash savings required of all Trusts in 2017/18 as part of the Health and Social Care system’s overall financial plan. This figure was recently reduced after the Department of Finance found £40m for the Department of Health and the collective savings were reduced to £30m.

The Western Trust insists it’s ownseparate internal savings proposals are low risk.

“The Western Trust has an annual budget of over £600m and for the past eight years has been required to deliver savings on an annual basis,” a spokesperson said.

“A significant component of the plan to address this shortfall relates to delivering internal efficiencies in areas such as absenteeism, procurement, and estates rationalisation. In addition, some new investment funding has been provided to the Trust which will be delayed to release savings in-year. There are also restrictions applied to the use of goods and services, as well as the recruitment of staff, however these are of low risk as decisions are made on a case by case basis. The implementation of this internal annual savings plan has a limited impact on front-line services.”